Category Archives: July 2020

Advocates Applaud Court Order Blocking Trump Public Charge Regulations

July 29, 2020

– Hayley Burgess, NILC, 202-805-0375, [email protected]
– Barbara Semedo, CLASP, 202-906-8010, [email protected]

Advocates Applaud Court Order Blocking Trump Public Charge Regulations

WASHINGTON, DC — A federal court today issued nationwide injunctions, blocking any implementation of the Trump administration’s public charge regulations, which threaten the health, nutrition, and housing of millions of families. One order bars implementation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule, while the other bars implementation of a companion rule issued by the U.S. State Department. The orders, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, come as the COVID-19 death toll approaches 150,000.

“Today the federal courts have once again blocked the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant measures,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director for the National Immigration Law Center. “The court rightly recognized that, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take care of everyone in our country, and that President Trump’s public charge regulation is not just cruel but also dangerous to the health and well-being of our nation. We stand with our courageous plaintiffs in their victory before the court and will continue our work to ensure that everyone — regardless of their race or birthplace — has access to the testing, health care, and economic relief they need. We will only get through this crisis if we come together and take care of everyone in our communities.”

Research confirms that the public charge policy has undermined access to health care for millions in immigrant families, even before the coronavirus pandemic. Frontline health care workers have urged Congress to block its implementation as a critical element of effective coronavirus response.

“Scaring millions away from health care is dangerous during the best of times, and during a pandemic, it’s disastrous,” said Olivia Golden, executive director at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “By ensuring that everyone can access care without fear, today’s ruling protects America’s immigrant families and improves our nation’s response to the COVID-19 threat.”

The same court blocked the regulation in October 2019, but the U.S. Supreme Court lifted that injunction, allowing the Trump administration to implement the policy in February 2020. In March, the administration announced an exception to the DHS public charge regulation for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. In April, litigants challenging the policy, including the New York attorney general, the attorneys general of other states, and New York City, asked the Supreme Court to reconsider that decision in light of the pandemic. The Supreme Court declined but gave litigants leave to file again with the trial court. Today’s rulings follow oral arguments on that motion. The Trump administration has not yet indicated whether it will appeal.


Two Nationwide Injunctions Block “Public Charge” Rules Amid Pandemic

July 29, 2020

– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, (213) 375-3149, [email protected]
– Alejandra Lopez, The Legal Aid Society, (917) 294-9348, [email protected]
– Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449, –[email protected]
– Yatziri Tovar, Make the Road New York, (917) 771-2818, [email protected]

Judge Issues Two Nationwide Injunctions Blocking “Public Charge” Immigration Rules Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

New injunctions will allow immigrant communities across the U.S. to safely access critical health care and public assistance during health crisis

NEW YORK, NY — Today, a Manhattan federal court issued two nationwide injunctions temporarily blocking the Trump administration’s “public charge” rules. An injunction issued against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prevents DHS from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The ruling came after immigrant rights attorneys successfully argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the DHS public charge rule lethal to immigrant communities by chilling the use of health care and other benefits. The court also enjoined the U.S. State Department from applying its parallel “public charge” rules, including the president’s Health Care Proclamation, to applicants for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

“Since the Trump administration announced the public charge rules, it has caused immense harm to our communities — harm that intensified, as our country is in the midst of a health crisis,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director at Make the Road New York. “The public charge rules by both DHS and DOS attacked our loved ones by imposing a racist wealth test on the immigration system, leaving working immigrants to choose between vital services or remaining together with their families. At Make the Road, we have seen the devastating effect this rule has on families scared to seek out healthcare and basic forms of assistance from food pantries and even their children’s schools. We applaud the court’s decision and will continue to fight to stop the Trump administration’s reckless and inhumane attacks on immigrants.”

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the same New York court’s October 2019 decision to block DHS’s “public charge” rule. As a result, DHS began enforcing the rule on February 24, 2020, just before the coronavirus outbreak became a nationwide pandemic. The new injunction against DHS was issued in response to a joint motion filed by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, who joined New York State Attorney General Letitia James, representing the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont and the City of New York in arguing that immigrants should not be deterred from accessing health care and government benefits and services, especially during this unprecedented health crisis.

The second nationwide injunction was issued in a separate case challenging the State Department’s public charge rule as well as the president’s Health Care Proclamation requiring visa applicants to show proof of private health insurance. Because of the ruling, immigrants seeking to go through consular processing will not be subject to the public charge test utilized by the State Department. That case was brought on behalf of individual and organizational plaintiffs by the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society, the National Immigration Law Center, and Paul Weiss. Today’s ruling is the first decision fully addressing these policies, and it enjoined those policies indefinitely.

In his decision today, Judge George B. Daniels wrote: “Much has significantly changed since January 27. Today, the world is in the throes of a devastating pandemic, triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In six months, approximately 16.5 million people around the globe have been afflicted by the disease caused by this virus. That disease (COVID-19) has claimed over 650,000 lives worldwide. In the United States alone, COVID-19 has spread rapidly, infecting over four million people. Close to 150,000 American residents have died. All of these staggering numbers continue to climb on a daily basis…. Thousands continue to die indiscriminately. Attempting to effectively combat this plague has immediately come in conflict with the federal government’s new ‘public charge’ policy, a policy which is intended to discourage immigrants from utilizing government benefits and penalizes them for receipt of financial and medical assistance.”

Susan Welber, staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said: “Today’s decisions are a great victory for our plaintiffs and immigrant communities which have been disproportionately impacted by the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Immigrants, especially people serving as essential workers combating the spread of the coronavirus, need access to life-saving healthcare, food assistance, and other essential services in order to both tackle the pandemic and protect their families without fear of immigration consequences. The Court’s nationwide injunction against the Department of State public charge rule also protects immigrant families across the nation. We hope the court’s decisions sends a clear message to the government to withdraw these unlawful, racist, and anti-family rules, and that if they don’t, we will continue to fight them in court.”

Brittany Thomas, Bertha Justice Fellow with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “In times like this, today’s decisions signify great victories for the plaintiffs and immigrant communities, who can now access life-saving benefits without fear. The Court’s issuance of a nationwide injunction halting the public charge rule issued by the Department of State signifies a rejection of this administration’s radical position that they are above the law. We are pleased that the Court recognized the public charge rules as yet another attempt by this administration to undermine congressional authority and harm immigrant communities of color in the process. Today, immigrant communities throughout the entire country are protected and can focus on staying healthy and safe.”

Joanna E. Cuevas-Ingram, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said: “By implementing these regulations, the Trump administration has shown flagrant disregard for both the rule of law and community health in the middle of a pandemic. The Court’s decision recognizes that every member of our communities, including immigrants, must be able to access the tools they need to keep themselves healthy and safe. This is a great victory and we will not rest until these hateful, unlawful, and discriminatory regulations are gone for good.”


Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli challenges changes to the public charge provisions implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and was filed by The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP on behalf of Make the Road New York (MRNY), African Services Committee (ASC), Asian American Federation, Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

Make the Road New York v. Pompeo challenges changes to the public charge provisions of the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) and a DOS Interim Final Rule, which changed public charge regulations that affect immigrants who must undergo consular processing before entering the country. The Legal Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Immigration Law Center, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP brought the case on behalf of Make the Road New York (MRNY), African Services Committee (ASC), Central American Refugee Center New York (CARECEN-NY), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS), and individual plaintiffs.


National Immigration Law Center Welcomes New Board Members

July 27, 2020

Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375

National Immigration Law Center Welcomes New Board Members

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has added two members to its board of directors: Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo and Mr. Axel Caballero.

“The NILC board sets the strategic direction of the organization, and the additions of Omolara Uwemedimo and Axel Caballero will ensure that we continue to lead with a values-based approach that makes a meaningful difference for immigrants and our country,” said Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director. “NILC is unwavering in our commitment to ensuring that all communities, including immigrants, can thrive.  Omolara and Axel bring crucial perspective and talents to our board from their leadership in the social justice movement and in narrative and culture change, as well as their work to help bring visibility to our communities’ stories. I’m excited and honored to work with them to help propel our organization forward.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the ambitious and inspiring work of the National Immigration Law Center,” Dr. Uwemedimo said. “As a clinician and public health advocate who has served immigrant populations throughout my career, NILC’s resources and tools have been pivotal to my work. For years, NILC’s work has ensured that I can be the best advocate for immigrant families. I hope to use my position on the Board to provide as much value as possible to this necessary work.”

“The National Immigration Law Center serves a critical role in defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families,” Mr. Caballero said. “Especially at a time when certain politicians scapegoat and dehumanize immigrants, NILC’s visionary and multifaceted leadership is needed in the fight for immigrant justice more than ever. I’m thrilled to be joining NILC’s board and look forward to working to advance the organization’s vision for a more just, inclusive and welcoming society.”

•• Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo serves as the founding director of the Global and Immigrant Health Training Program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens, NY, a position she’s held since 2013.

She is a social justice pediatrician, advocate, and researcher who is passionate about health equity. She has committed her career to empowering families of color through culturally-responsive clinical care, research, education and advocacy in the U.S. and extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Uwemedimo has held several administrative leadership positions, including serving as codirector of the Resident Scholarly Oversight Committee at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and as a member of the Global Health Pediatric Education Group Steering Committee for the Association of Pediatric Program Directors. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor in the MPH Program at Hofstra University and as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center. Uwemedimo is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academic Pediatric Association and the Association of Pediatric Program Directors.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from the City University of New York, where she graduated magna cum laude. She received her M.D. from the New York University School of Medicine and completed her residency training in pediatrics at the Boston Medical Center/Children’s hospital Boston. She completed a research fellowship in health services research while completing a master’s degree in population and family health at Columbia University.

•• Axel Caballero is vice president of talent and artistic and cultural innovations at WarnerMedia. In this role, Caballero oversees the WarnerMedia portfolio of investments with leading artistic and cultural institutions in each of the cities where the company operates, as well as WarnerMedia’s 150, an initiative designed to support artistic expression, talent, and content innovation and incubation across all disciplines.

Caballero previously served as the director of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at HBO and as the executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). Before joining NALIP, he had been active in a number of media and campaign projects, spanning Latino media fairness and equality to immigration and human rights, with a focus on the development of short films and documentary films. Caballero is the founder and executive producer of Cuentame, Latino Lens and Goodness Films, as well as founder of the Spanish-language opinion site Metafora Politica. He has produced and directed over 500 short films and videos, with an emphasis on telling Latino stories by and for Latinos throughout the general market.

Caballero was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. He holds a B.A. in political science, law and society, and visual arts studies from University of California, San Diego. He received his master’s in international law and human rights with a focus on advancing rights through visual mediums from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.


Congress Urged to Include Tax-paying Immigrant Families in Next COVID-19 Relief Bill

July 21, 2020

– Hayley Burgess, National Immigration Law Center, [email protected], 202-805-0375
– Erica Jordan, America’s Voice, [email protected], 704-654-2134

Immigrants’ Rights Advocates and Experts Urge Congress to Include Tax-paying Immigrant Families in Next COVID-19 Relief Bill

WASHINGTON, DC —  As Congress returns to work this week in the midst of a resurgent coronavirus pandemic, immigrants and advocates urged members of Congress to introduce a COVID-19 relief package that would provide critical financial and other support to all, including tax-paying immigrants and their families who were excluded in previous bills.

When Congress passed the COVID-19 relief package in March, millions of tax-paying immigrants were excluded from qualifying for financial relief, and many U.S. citizens were also excluded based on the immigration status of their family members. As a result, millions of U.S. citizens and taxpayers did not receive the financial help that their tax money paid for and on which tens of millions of people have depended to survive.

“The COVID-19 crisis has placed unparalleled strains on the country’s most vulnerable families, including immigrant families. In the CARES Act, Congress explicitly excluded immigrant families from qualifying for stimulus payments, if any taxpayer in the family filed taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). That means that millions of U.S. citizen spouses and children were denied stimulus payments because one member of the family pays their taxes using an ITIN, not a Social Security number,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “This is punitive, hurts communities and public health, and is just plain wrong. Congress must act swiftly to right some of the wrongs in the last COVID bill and work across party lines to make sure that this recovery is truly a recovery for all.”

“My mother was one of the first to get fired at her job when the COVID-19 outbreak severely hit the States. In addition, my disabled father couldn’t find work before COVID, and his health condition and age make him susceptible to the virus, leaving him with no options but to stay home. This situation has left me as the sole income provider of a household of five,” said Luz Chavez-Gonzales, DACA recipient and member of United We Dream. “Despite a Supreme Court ruling, the Trump administration has made it clear that they want to deport immigrants like me. For now, DACA allows me to work and provides me with some peace of mind from the threat of deportation. Right now, with a health crisis and the uncertainty of Trump ending DACA, my family could lose our only source of income. Congress must extend protections from deportation for DACA, TPS holders, and other immigrants in the next COVID-19 relief package, so I can keep working to help provide for my family.”

“Like many families all over, we’ve been impacted by this pandemic. Even though we pay taxes like everyone else, we’ve been denied help when we need it most. It’s not fair. And we simply can’t continue like this. We’re very worried about what we’re going to do. We’re not asking for any special treatment, only that we don’t get cast aside. Our communities are suffering and our future and the future of our children hang in the balance,” said Lorena, Colorado resident, mother, and restaurant worker who files taxes using an ITIN.

“Enough is enough! The fact is that Washington has passed three stimulus packages that have shamefully excluded more than 1.2 million immigrant New Yorkers — including American children and spouses of immigrant taxpayers. Meanwhile immigrants continue to serve on the front lines of New York’s COVID-19 outbreak, ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of every single one of us, and contributing billions of dollars in taxes,” said Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Once again, Senate Minority Leader Schumer has the opportunity to ensure that our elected leaders stop playing partisan politics with our lives and finish what the House Democrats started by pushing for passage of the Heroes Act. All New York families need relief, now more than ever, and the cost of inaction is too high.”

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin, said: “Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin has launched a campaign to support immigrant essential workers across industries. We immediately saw the extreme hardship that many families are enduring. In the absence of action from the federal government, Voces created a fund to support undocumented and mixed status families that did not qualify for previous stimulus funds. Due to high demand, the fund was quickly depleted. We need Congress to act now, and we call on Senator Tammy Baldwin to vote for an inclusive stimulus package that includes all Wisconsin workers.”


Recording of today’s press call about this issue:

DACA Recipients Continue Their Battle Against the Trump Administration

July 21, 2020

– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), 213-375-3149, [email protected]
– Yatziri Tovar, Make the Road New York (MRNY), 917-771-2818, [email protected]
– Ramis Wadood, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School, 203-432-4800, [email protected]

DACA Recipients Continue Their Battle Against the Trump Administration

NEW YORK — Following a monumental Supreme Court win in June, immigrant youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Make the Road New York returned to federal district court today to hold the Trump administration to its obligation to fully restore DACA, as required by the Supreme Court’s decision.

A letter filed by plaintiffs in Batalla Vidal v. Wolf highlights the Trump administration’s continued refusal to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision holding that the termination of DACA was unlawful. Despite that decision and a related federal court order issued last week, the government has not publicized any plans to begin accepting first-time requests for DACA and requests for advance parole. The letter asks the district court to hold a status conference to determine next steps in the litigation, including when and how the government intends to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Eliana Fernandez, lead organizer at Make the Road New York and one of the plaintiffs in the Batalla Vidal case, said, “It’s utterly outrageous that the Trump administration has still refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. We demand Trump heed the rule of law and immediately reopen the program for new applicants and allow current beneficiaries like me to apply for advance parole to visit our loved ones, as we did before Trump tried unlawfully to end the program.”

Batalla Vidal v. Wolf was the first legal challenge to President Trump’s 2017 termination of DACA. That case — in which the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and Make the Road New York (MRNY), represent six DACA recipients and MRNY — culminated in a monumental victory at the U.S. Supreme Court last month. The Court held that the Trump administration violated federal law by improperly terminating DACA in 2017.

“The clock has run out on the Trump administration,” said Trudy S. Rebert, attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “It has had plenty of time to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Instead, the Trump administration is creating confusion and anxiety through the President’s nonsensical comments and trying to distract from the fact that the decision even happened.”

Over the past eight years, more than 700,000 immigrant youth have been able to work, attend school, better support their families, and make even greater contributions to their communities because of the protections granted by DACA. And because of the Supreme Court’s decision, an estimated 300,000 more are now eligible for DACA benefits.

“The Trump administration side-stepped its legal obligations when it rescinded DACA three years ago, and now it’s ignoring those obligations outright,” said Ramis Wadood, law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “Hundreds of thousands of people have been illegally kept out of the DACA program since 2017. They must be allowed to apply immediately.”


LPR Applicants, Sponsors, and Rights Groups Sue Over Violations in Implementation of Public Charge “Wealth Test”

July 13, 2020

Hayley Burgess, NILC, [email protected], 202-805-0375
Belle Woods, AILA, [email protected], 202-507-7675
Anne Gallagher, Jenner & Block LLP, [email protected], 312-923-2641
Julie A. Fei, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, [email protected], 714-830-0684

LPR Applicants, Their Sponsors, and Immigrant and Civil Rights Groups Sue Over Law Violations in Implementation of Trump Administration’s Public Charge “Wealth Test”

WASHINGTON, DC — Today,  a group of applicants for lawful permanent residence, their sponsors, nonprofit immigration legal service providers, and immigrant and civil rights groups sued the Trump administration for violating the law in its implementation of the new “public charge” regulation, alleging that the new guidance goes further than the regulation itself to exclude individuals who merit admission to the United States. The complaint was filed by lawyers from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Jenner & Block LLP, and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. Plaintiffs claim that the guidance contains a complex and contradictory set of policies designed to unlawfully and arbitrarily prevent all but the wealthiest of immigrants from becoming lawful permanent residents.

“Our plaintiffs have navigated increasingly onerous obstacles imposed by the immigration system in their attempts to create a safe, permanent home in the United States, only to be confronted with a new set of arbitrary and unlawful barriers,” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “The Trump administration is attempting to circumvent and reshape our immigration system and the statutory standards for admission that Congress has established by using this backdoor and unlawful approach in the interest of changing the face of immigrants allowed into this country.” 

The Trump administration published sweeping changes in a public charge regulation in August 2019, after receiving hundreds of thousands of comments in opposition to the proposed rule change. This regulation, which critics claim makes it more difficult for immigrants who are not wealthy to become lawful permanent residents, has already caused immigrants of all statuses to forego health care and vital economic support out of fear of jeopardizing their immigration status. 

The lawsuit filed today alleges that the guidance purporting to implement the regulation is contradictory and even more punitive than the regulation itself, creating additional burdens for immigrants who are applying for lawful permanent residence by fundamentally altering the standard of proof and counting the mere fact of the application for lawful permanent residence against every applicant.  

The complaint also alleges that the defendants impose additional unprecedented, arbitrary burdens and costs, adding new evidentiary requirements via the I-944 “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.” The information sought in the Form I-944 goes beyond and in some cases contradicts the regulation, without explanation. Some of the mountains of information required are irrelevant to the public charge inquiry and appear designed to deter applicants from applying at all.

Plaintiff Alhassan Nabieu Sesay is a U.S. citizen and health care worker who is sponsoring visas for his parents, who live with him and his family. The challenged guidance has raised the burden of proof and the amount of evidence needed to apply for and secure lawful permanent residence, and the policies count against applicants the very fact that they are seeking lawful permanent residence in weighing the evidence. 

“Our family members, including my parents — as well as the grandparents who care for their grandchildren, or the uncles and aunts who carry on family traditions — are some of our country’s most precious resources,” said Sesay. “Yet the Trump administration’s guidance stacks the deck against them. I’m suing today to make sure that my parents — and other parents — are afforded the dignity they deserve.” 

“As immigration attorneys, our 15,000 members are used to navigating the complexity of immigration laws, regulations, and the agency’s binding policy manual,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation for AILA. “Unfortunately, USCIS has taken the liberty of legislating new requirements for purposes of those who must demonstrate that they are not likely to become a public charge. Put simply, the administration took a discriminatory and terrible regulation that they promulgated with the intent to keep immigrants from becoming green card holders and eventually citizens, and made it even worse through the manual and overreach for information included in the new Form I-944. As we learned with the Supreme Court’s DACA decision, the Trump administration cannot play fast and loose with the laws that govern administrative rulemaking.”

The complaint further charges that the guidelines and Form I-944 are additionally invalid because they were developed when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lacked a lawfully serving secretary or director. 

Other plaintiffs in the case include Community Refugee and Immigration Services, a nonprofit based in central Ohio, and Immigrant Legal Defense, an immigrant-serving organization in Oakland, California. Khudheyer et al. v. Cuccinelli, et al., No. 20-cv-1882, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Read the complaint here

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